Rune Hunt


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Rating: 4.2/5 (86 votes)
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DoraRune HuntIn Rune Hunt, a creepy retro exploration game with puzzle elements, you play a young boy who descends into a series of dark caverns in search of your father, who believes himself to be on the verge of a great discovery when he finds a massive door inscribed with runes deep beneath the earth. You're unarmed, alone, and all you have is the occasional flickering flame or eerie glow of cold crystals to light your path. What could possibly go wrong? Well, you know, except for everything. Geez, doesn't anybody watch bad '80s horror movies anymore?

You move around with the [arrow] keys, and interact with things by hitting the [space] bar when a question mark appears over the protagonist's head. Most of the gameplay is simply accomplished by exploring... easier said than done considering how dark it is. As you search the caverns, you'll come across runes that will not only help you open various doors and activate various... things, for lack of a better word to avoid spoilers. Most doors will only open once you've gathered a certain number of runes, so you'll have to keep your eyes peeled for their tell-tale gleam in the shadows... as well as any other things that may be looking back at you.

While green crystals give off their own glow, blue crystals only light up when you get close enough to them. Why is this important? Because light is the only thing that keeps the creatures lurking in the dark at bay. Because you can't defend yourself, you really don't want to get caught in the shadows, so it's important to learn how to take advantage of light sources... and crystals aren't the only ones you'll come across in the game. You can't manually save the game, but if you close the game window and come back to it later, you can choose to continue from the starting point of the last room you entered. Ditto if anything... unfortunate... were to happen to you.

Rune HuntAnalysis: Rune Hunter is a little slow. I don't mean slow as in the protagonist is slow moving, although there's that, too. But the whole thing takes so long to build any sort of momentum that players looking for instant gratification may dismiss it after five minutes. Which would be a shame, because Rune Hunt manages to inject a lot of atmosphere and mystery into its tiny pixel package that makes for a lot of rewarding exploration. There's a sinking sense of dread the deeper you go that you wouldn't expect to find in a game that looks like it was plucked straight out of the NES-era. The game makes great use of light and sound to give itself some wonderful ambiance.

There are a few plot points that require you to be somewhere else for them to happen, but because the game doesn't really tell you to just bugger off and explore, you might wind up hanging around certain areas tapping your foot and wondering why nothing is happening. You might end up wishing for a bit more variation, however, the longer you play. The game can go from "Ooooh" to "RRRRRR!" due to the lack of any sort of map (even one the protagonist could make himself) if you get lost or don't know where to go next, especially when the story moves so slowly. Likewise, once the moving light sources are introduced, the puzzles require a bit more patience, a bit more action, and can be a little frustrating.

Still, Rune Hunt is a creepy, fun, clever take on the puzzle genre. While it does have its issues, and I wished for a more present story, I enjoyed it a lot, and look forward to more from the mind behind it. So throw on your adventure boots, because we're about to go exploring in the deepest, darkest, most monster infested-est pit of the earth we can find. Come on; what's the worst that could happen?

Play Rune Hunt

35 Comments

Thanks a lot for your fair and really well written review! This just adds to the most exciting day of this year, hehe.

The slow moving character and lack of minimap are me just being mean. I created the game based on a childhood memory of me and my friend playing the caves part of The Legend of Kyrandia. It was so frustrating, hard, unfair. We drew maps on paper to find our way. Time turned that memory in something pleasent.

(see that walkthrough and you know what I mean)

I understand everyone who doesn't like the game but I still wanted to make it like that and it's not half as unfair or hard as I remember Kyrandia to have been.

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Infant Tyrone Author Profile Page September 24, 2010 8:14 PM

Very enjoyable, at least to the third level. But

trying to steer the butterfly to chase the grues away from the stones I need is really infuriating.

And I understand the lack of a map, but maybe... could we get one once we've collected a certain number of stones?

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rather important when you get to the last level

The lava pit only brings up a dialogue box if you approach it from the left side. It's very easy to die by walking into it accidentally, and that ends the game where you can't continue. I for one am not about to do that whole thing again; it's walkthrough time

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Even though having to start from the beginning because of the... thing in the last level made me burn with frustration (in more ways than one), I had a great time with Rune Hunt. The puzzles were not too difficult and the story was interesting, but what really shined was the atmosphere of the game. Which is odd, since it's actually very dark. Get it? Get it? ...Okay, I'll stop :D

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Butterfly too fast! Little dude go splat.

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I agree with Shudog, the butterflies were just slightly too fast. I'd start out down a hallway just behind the butterfly, and by the time I got to the danger I'd have lagged behind so far that the monsters would eat me. The butterflies being faster than you also make it difficult to maneuver your guy to make them go in the right direction without having what I described above happen.

I ragequit on level 3(4? I assume each portal goes to a new level, but I lost track of how many portals I went through.) because of the butterflies, but I might give it a try again, with a pencil and paper this time. Maybe I was just Doing It Wrong, but it felt like I had the right idea, just the execution was very tricky.

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I am stuck in a room (corridor, really)

with 4 runes showing but blocked off by walls. It's the first portal.

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Found it. The walkthrough helps.
Gah. Too nerve-wracking for just after midnight.

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Not worth trying to repel the butterfly in the right direction, just to have it rubberband back to it's spawn point. Lowest score.

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'Twas fun until I found out that after a point, the butterfly doesn't care if you're chasing it, it just wants to go home.

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To all the people complaining about the butterfly:

You can't simply chase it where you want it. You HAVE to let it try and get back to its home, but block its path.

Having said that, the fire ending and the light ending were, disappointingly not that different. Only the flashing text changed.

Other than that, I enjoyed this a ton. It wasn't really super-hard, the atmosphere was EXCELLENT, and even getting punched around by the golems was a little fun.

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To get "home" the butterfly HAS to follow the trail back. If it "sees" you, it will assume you are still chasing, even if you are just standing there.

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I played thru in about an hour, hour and a half. I couldn't remember where the exit was a few times, but otherwise I didn't get lost. I enjoyed the simplicity, and the puzzles, which felt organic and not too "puzzley." I only had a bit of trouble butterfly wrangling -- you have to use the knowledge that the butterfly will attempt to return home if you back off and step out of the way.

Good level design, nifty sprites (though the main character seemed blobby), good length. However, what we learn along the way seems more like backstory than story, would have liked a stronger narrative, another character to talk to. Also,

Shouldn't he have been more messed up at the end about his dad dying? Or could we bring Pop back later in the game when it's revealed he touched a regeneration pillar before dying?

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I've found two endings: Jumping into the lava, or escaping. Anyone found a third?

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I find it odd that there are spots that are unexplorable in the early game. Especially the first level, where the 'path' splits with two doors. Door on the left leads to the exit, while door on the right has a bunch of grues.
Another point of interest is in level 3 in the far top-left corner, with a golem, a bunch of grues, and a fire. Who put the fire there? Is there anything past those grues above the golem? Unfortunatley the golem prevents safe passage.

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Great game. For me, just the right amount of frustration and just the right overall length.
My only real point of annoyance was in the very very beginning when

your dad keeps telling you to wait just a second, with no indication that you should maybe go explore through the door on your own.

Though even this was not a big deal.
Kudos to the developer!

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There's plenty to like in this little game, but I must admit that after a while the light effects were giving me a headache, and steering those butterflies was just a bit more frustrating then it really needed to be.

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Argh. I hate to do this so early on in a simple game, but I'm sooo glad there is a video walkthrough.

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I just managed to get two of the butterflies EXACTLY lined up. For a moment I thought they'd combined (nope). It looked cool and lit up a bigger area.
No real point to it, though...

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I like this game, but I get really annoyed with how he's continually talking about how amazing it is that he keeps getting resurrected. I get it already. You're a video game character.

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The music sounds like the one used in Small Worlds.

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I don't believe this! I just accidentally walked into the fire pit on level 4(?) and you're telling me that's it? Start all the way from beginning?! No way! I would have rated the game 5, but this drops it to 1. So frrrustrating! Grr!

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I got the 'good' (escape) ending, but now I wonder if there exists a 'best' one when you manage to get out of the caves without dying even once?

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Thanks all for taking the time to comment.

@alaira: Now having all the data from more then 100.000 plays I see that level 3 should have been split in two.

@sgtdroopy: I had to make the butterflys return at certain points as players would otherwise try to take one with them all the time and get even more frustrated if they'd lose it. So butterfly puzzles are all local now.

@HoraceTorys: Regarding the dialogue quality I tend to agree. I didn't foresee how hard decent writing is in a foreign language (I'm german). I wasn't perfactly happy but couldn't do any better. :/

@peter: The idea with the dad is that he's keeping you waiting and telling you to wait "just one second" in a way that not only anoys your character but also you as a player. So after a while both of you go "screw this, I'll just have a quick look". I just tried to design the game in a way that the feeling the character and the player are having in sync. He's as unhappy about dying just as you are, he's getting tired of running around and feeling lost. And the Lava pit is there as a temptation of a cheap solution for both of you.

@Danny: He's not actually finding getting resurrected very amazing. And in most video games both you and the avatar just pretend a recen death hasn't happen. I just felt like questioning that convention. Sorry if you didn't like it.

@Thelenius: I'm sorry to hear that. It was not meant as a trap that you'd fall into unintentionally. I'll make the trigger a little smaller and also the "Continue" button to allow you to restart in the 5th level and not from the beginning.

@yeroneem: There's no such third ending. But it's certainly possible to not die once!

I'm glad that most of you seem to like it in a way. :) Seems like most people on armor games hate it! Not fun to read so many negative one-word comments. Well, it's my problem I guess if I take it to heart.

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I liked it. The frustrating aspects of the game, it seems, is so intentionally, which does make it oldschool! It's not so bad and not so long that I wasn't prepared to play it over again to see the other ending (I jumped in the lava on purpose to see what would happen but that doesn't mean I wasn't a little frustrated that I had to start at the beginning, again!)

I was kind of expecting a third, grander ending, one where you not only escape but also solve the mystery of the caves, what the creatures were and why you're being resurrected, or of what happened to your father. (A part of me wondered if the dad was also being resurrected and that you might actually run into him later in the game.) I love pixel stuff and I liked the puzzle element, too.

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A button on the end screen(s) to restart the last level would've been nice, but otherwise great game! Have to play it again at home, with sound.

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Nice little game, despite falling into the lava pit by accident.

Two questions, though (possible spoilers):

What exactly killed the Dad?

In my opinion he was in a well-lit area, where the shadow-beasts shouldn't have been able to reach him - and there don't seem to be any of their holes close-by, anyway.

Is it possible to evade all golems without being bumped into at least once?

Sometimes it works, but for others this seems to be impossible, especially the one you encounter near the parallel corridors.

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n00less cluebie September 27, 2010 1:11 PM

A well spent hour of entertainment, game play was well balanced between not being too easy, and not being too hard. Butterflies were the only slightly annoying part (I mean, come ON, can't I catch one???? :-)

Only thing I'd like to have seen added was a third ending that took into account the backstory, depending on if you read all the tablets, or if you just got lucky....

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fuzzyface Author Profile Page October 3, 2010 10:10 AM

I liked this one, I didnt play when this was first featured, as it started to like a RPG; and I thought I dont have time for this :) But to play it in 2 hours makes it very neat.

Like with some horror movies, some things are so forseable, they dont suprise you anymore, like the issue your dad. I really waited a long time for him, since I saw this coming. And I'm a scientist too, so I would have not wanted to disrespect his wish... but then at one point you realize the game doesnt let you, but go ahead, and his death was so predictable. Well mostly at least. As author I would have made him misteriously vanish instead, leaving more questions open for the player than his death. Altough he could still be alive, since you leave bodies too if you die in the cave. Actually even without touching a ress stone even once. So actually by all means, there is no reason why daddy should not have been ressurected too (and he did touch a runestone as well, as he got one at his camp)

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I found the game EXCELLENT.
Really great game.
Great mechanisms, great story, great ambiance!!
That's the best ambiance I have seen in a game for a VERY LONG TIME.
Really, congratulations pal, this game was fantastic!
And for me after the lava jump I can restart from the last level, so this issue has been corrected, for the better :-))
Only thing, I too was waiting for a third ending, and a different image for each ending ... let's say that the overall excellent value of the game make me wanting that ;-))

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This game, like far too many, hit a major pet peeve of mine: video walkthroughs. The youTube ones are bad enough, but at least they don't force me to watch a 30 second ad before I can get a little help on one of the levels.

And I was looking forward to the rest of the game, too. :( Can anyone give me a nudge? I just found the lantern flowers.

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Butterfly won't change directions in lvl 3, so I can't get to third rune..
Great game (till now) though

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It's a pretty interesting game and I do want to know what happens. But it is really hard (Level 3 - is that the one with pink mushrooms?) where I am. So I turn to the walkthroughs and what do I find? Nothing. There are only one set of walkthroughs on Armor games, and those aren't loading for me.

It would be nice to have a typed walkthrough some time in the future. Not necessarily too specific but the basics and maybe some screen shots where suitable.

I need 3 more runes to get through the two doors and I can't find any more. Eventually I'll probably start walking into the shadows just to spite the character.

However, it's quite well made in terms of game play. The option to move faster would be nice. I don't know the full story yet but it's very captivating so far.

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dannyman658 May 5, 2011 10:07 PM

After messing with butterflies a little bit, I found out several things that were very useful.

They will always move approximately 5-6 squares away from where the character was last in thier 'bump' zone.

They will always try to head in the opposite zone the player comes from, unless there is a wall, in which case if the player is not in a hallway, they will go up or down depending on which one the character is more.

If they are in a hallway at a 2-way intersection, the butterfly will take whichever path goes closer to home. If the butterfly's home is in the direction of the player, then going to one side or the other of the hallway is enough to affect the direction they go, though they seem to prefer the direction of the grues(?) for their path.

I hope that this helps if anyone needs it.


Also, I thought the game was ok. I thought that the way you just made all the walls have infinitely tall black walls to make the lighting effects was really interesting! It worked really well, too!

If I actually had an account, I would give it a 3/5 just because I didn't like that it was necessary to go to the walk-through just to learn that one actually could steer the butterflies.

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mangabottle September 20, 2011 7:58 AM

I'm on the level where you first encounter the 'golems', and I'm stuck. I've tried watching the videos but they're not loading for me :( Please help!

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